Under-funded roads ‘risk drivers’ and riders

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    About four in five local authorities in England believe driver safety is being put at risk because road maintenance is under funded, a survey suggests.
    The Asphalt Industry Alliance said London’s road maintenance shortfall is £60m – for the rest of England it is £1.64bn and for Wales it is £151m.

    It says planned investment is needed to end the “cycle of under-investment”.

    The government says it has given local authorities £3bn in the past five years to halt the deterioration of roads.

    Given adequate funds, it would take English local authorities – excluding those in London – 10.9 years to clear their maintenance backlog, the AIA said.

    The figure for London councils was 7.4 years and for Welsh councils 12.1 years.

    The AIA said that on average principal roads were now only properly resurfaced every 73 years.

    Short-term spending is an expensive and wasteful way of using tax-payers’ money to patch together the capital’s roads

    Jim Crick, AIA chairman

    One problem was that maintenance money was being spent on paying insurance claims for cars damaged by potholes, and pedestrians injured through tripping over.

    English authorities last year paid out £47.3 million in settling claims by road users for damage to vehicles or accidents due to road structural conditions. The figure for Wales was £5.3 million and for London £16 million.

    The survey also showed that English local authorities are receiving only 32% of the budget they need for road maintenance, while Welsh councils are getting 38% and London councils 58%.

    Referring to the figures applying to London, AIA chairman Jim Crick said the capital’s road did not reflect its status as one of the major cities of the world. “The cycle of underinvestment and reactive work has to stop if we are to use budgets effectively,” he said.

    “Short-term spending is an expensive and wasteful way of using tax-payers’ money to patch together the capital’s roads.

    “Long-term, properly planned, investment in road condition is the only way we are going to tackle the mounting problems and deliver a road network that meets the requirements of communities and business. We need to do it now.”

    But a Department for Transport spokesman said the government had halted the deterioration in local road conditions by 2004 as planned.

    He said: “Over £3bn has been provided to local authorities for this task in the past five years.

    “We recently announced that we will provide £672m for local highway maintenance next year. This is the highest level of funding for highway maintenance ever committed.

    “Local authorities are also able to use money from their revenue support funding for road maintenance. It is up to them to spend the generous funding from central government as they feel appropriate to keep their local roads in good condition.”

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